Between me and my dog, I'm not sure which one of us has separation anxiety. We spend way too much time together, especially since COVID-19 started. I'm simply with him 24/7 (thanks to the ability to work from home). If you're like me, you probably have your dog with you, no matter where you are. Am I right?
Unfortunately, I can't always take my dog with me. The fact is that we're living our busy social life and traveling is a part of that. Based on the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 40% of Americans will take at least one trip in a year. What if this one trip is "No Pets Allowed" kind of traveling. What would you do to make it less stressful for your dog?
Do these 5 things before you travel
1. Introduce your dog to a sitter or boarding facility a couple of weeks before traveling.
As soon as you know you need to travel, find someone to care for your dog fast! I'm lucky that my folks live in the same area, so most of the time, my dog's sitter is a call away. This might not be the case for some of you and you might end up with a dog-sitting service or a boarding facility.
Once you find someone, set up times for your dog to get to know his sitter - at least once a week until the traveling date. If you have to place your dog in a boarding facility, take him to visit the place a few times before traveling. Knowing that your dog is comfortable and in good hands will benefit your trip as well.
2. Have your dog information handy for a sitter or boarding staff
Gather all information in one place to ensure proper care. Have it ready when you leave your dog. In general, the information should include the dog's name, the vet's contact, and his routine. If any medication is needed, make a list, including clear instructions. Also, don't forget your contact information!
Download this Dog Information template. Choose the one that you like then print and fill it out. There are extra sheets for cats too!
3. Pack your dog's favorite items
This might not be necessary if your dog-sitter comes to the house. However, I had to send my dog to be with my parents-in-law more than a couple of times in the past. When it first happened, my Yorkie felt a little disoriented. He missed his favorite stuffed dinosaur and couldn't be at rest.
He likes to spend some quality time (wink wink) with his dinosaur after dinner. It doesn't matter where the poor toy is, he will find it and drag it to his bed. So from then on, I always pack his dinosaur, a couple of his favorite toys, his usual food, and his bed for him.
4. Pack your personal items
This idea came from my mother-in-law. She mentioned that my dog would look for me from time to time. So she suggested that I left my t-shirt in his bed so he could get my scent from the t-shirt. It has to have been worn though for this to work.
You can leave anything that has your scent such as socks, a t-shirt, shorts, or a towel. Be warned that you might not want it back when you return. It will need to be in a deep-clean cycle for sure. Trust me on this!
5. Use some help to calm your dog
Not so long ago, when I still could take my dog to work, he would be in my cubicle. We were blocked in with sections of his play-pen that I brought from home. My dog would be on guard everytime a random co-worker walked by. To prevent him from barking, I played dog music with the hope that he would fall asleep. It worked - not all the time, but it did help!
I found Relax My Dog on YouTube that plays dog music. They have music at various lengths, starting from 15 minutes to 15 hours. You will find music for calmness, sleepy time, and anything at all to help with dog anxiety and these are free!
I would suggest that you play music at bedtime every night, so your dog would associate the music with his resting time. Leave a note with your dog-sitter to play the music, so when he hears the music, it would put him into a resting stage. It is like how Pavlov conditioned the Palovian dog!
Creating an environment filled with items that your dog is familiar with will help him feel more comfortable while you're gone. Also, leave clear instructions and information on how to care for your dog. Using media such as a dog music playlist to create a calm condition will also help reduce his anxiety. Try these 5 things when you travel without your dog next time for less worry.